McDonald’s To Sell Its Russian Business

McDonald’s said Monday that it has started the process of selling its Russian business, which includes 850 restaurants that employ 62,000 people, making it the latest major Western corporation to exit Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.

The fast food giant pointed to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, saying holding on to its business in Russia “is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.”

In March, the Chicago-based company said it would temporarily close its Russian stores but continue to pay workers. It stated that it was looking for a Russian buyer to hire these workers, and then pay them up until the deal closes. It didn’t identify any potential buyers.

CEO Chris Kempczinski said the “dedication and loyalty to McDonald’s” of employees and hundreds of Russian suppliers made it a difficult decision to leave.

“However, we have a commitment to our global community and must remain steadfast in our values,” Kempczinski said in a statement, “and our commitment to our values means that we can no longer keep the arches shining there.”

As it tries to sell its restaurants, McDonald’s said it plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with the company’s name. McDonald’s said that it would keep Russia its trademarks.

The first McDonald’s in Russia opened in the middle of Moscow more than three decades ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This iconic symbol was an important sign of the end of Cold War tensions between America and the Soviet Union.

McDonald’s was the first American fast food restaurant to open in the Soviet Union, which would collapse in 1991. McDonald’s decision to leave comes as other American food and beverage giants including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Starbucks have paused or closed operations in Russia in the face of Western sanctions.

Companies ranging from the British oil giants Shell and BP, to Renault in France have left Russia. This has caused a financial hit as they attempt to sell their Russian holdings. Some companies have been forced to leave, while others are able to stay at most of their holdings.

McDonald’s said it expects to record a charge against earnings of between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion over leaving Russia.

The company has closed its restaurants in Ukraine, however it said that they continue to pay the full salary of their employees.

McDonald’s has more than 39,000 locations across more than 100 countries. Most are owned by franchisees—only about 5% are owned and operated by the company.

McDonald’s said exiting Russia will not change its forecast of adding a net 1,300 restaurants this year, which will contribute about 1.5% to companywide sales growth.

Last month, McDonald’s reported that it earned $1.1 billion in the first quarter, down from more than $1.5 billion a year earlier. Nearly $5.7 billion was generated.

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